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British citizenship requirements

British citizenship requirements

Find out more about the British citizenship requirements by calling us on  0121 667 6530. Our team if dedicated lawyers can help assess your eligibility and support you with an application, in person, over the phone, or via Skype.

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What are the requirements for citizenship?

There are several different requirements you need to meet in order to become a British citizen. These depend on your circumstances, and how you intend to apply for citizenship. You can do this through the process of naturalisation or registration. These routes are very different; the first involves you living in the UK with valid entry clearance and then with Indefinite Leave to Remain first. Whereas you are only eligible for registration if you have a claim to citizenship. This is the case if one of your parents is British and you were born outside the UK, for instance.

The requirements for British citizenship by naturalization include meeting English language criteria and passing the Life in the UK test. You also need to have held Indefinite Leave to Remain status in the UK for a ‘continuous period’. You need to have lived in the UK with ILR for one year in order to qualify for UK citizenship.

If you want to know more about the requirements for British citizenship then you can contact our team of experienced immigration lawyers by calling us on  0121 667 6530. We will be able to advise you on whether you meet the criteria to become a UK citizen and, if you do not yet meet it, what steps you need to take in order to do so.

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Becoming a British citizen

UK nationality can be applied for or claimed through the following means:

  • Through the naturalisation process (this applies to adults from overseas who do not have any former ties to British nationality)
  • Through the registration process (this applies to adults and children who have ties to British nationality – see below)
  • By birth (this applies to people who have at least one British parent. Those born in the UK do not need to register but are automatically granted British nationality. Those born outside the UK must undergo the registration process to claim their right to citizenship)
  • By adoption (this apples to people who were adopted before they turned 18 by one or more British parents, and the order was made via a UK court)

Citizenship English language requirements

If you are applying for British citizenship by naturalisation you must meet the English language requirements. To do this, you must prove you have a good knowledge of spoken and aural English (to the equivalent of a ‘B1’ level).

You can do this by passing an English language test, which must be taken at an approved centre and with a board that is recognized by UKVI. For example, this could be ESOL (English for Speakers of Other Languages) or Trinity College London.

If you have a degree from a recognised institution which was taught in English, and you can prove this, you do not need to take an English language test.

Nationals from countries where English is the predominant language are also exempt from meeting this requirement.

Good character requirements

The ‘good character’ criteria requires applicants for British citizenship to show that they are respectful of British laws and legislation.

To review this, the Home Office scrutinises your criminal and immigration history when you submit a nationality application. It also looks at your financial ‘soundness’. Someone can fail to meet the British nationality requirements based on their character if they have a history of breaching immigration rules if they have committed crimes in the past, and even for unpaid fines and debts.

When filling out a citizenship application, you will be asked to disclose all information that you feel may affect your ‘good character’. Failure to declare any evidence will mean that your application I automatically refused.

Immigration restrictions

One British citizenship application requirement is that the applicant is free from immigration restrictions and time limits.

This means that they hold settled status in the UK. They must have held this for a minimum period of 12 months in the run up to submitting their citizenship application. Depending on a person’s nationality they can hold Indefinite Leave to Remain or EEA Settled Status.

When you submit your supporting documents, you will also be required to include evidence of your current immigration status (which shows you are settled) and your immigration history (which UK visas you have held and for how long).

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The Life in the UK test

Passing the Life in the UK test is another British citizenship requirement. This is a test which the majority of people who want to become a UK citizen must pass in order to be eligible.

This test is a multiple-choice exam comprised of questions on different UK topics, including British history, popular culture, traditions, literature, values, and geography. It is made up of 24 questions and you must pass by at least 75% (which is at least 18 correctly-answered questions).

The test costs £50 to take, and there are various centres around the UK where it can be taken.

You are exempt from taking the citizenship test if you have already taken and passed one for your ILR application (you must demonstrate this in your application) or you are under the age of 18 or over the age of 65 when submitting you application for citizenship.

Residence requirements

To meet the British citizenship requirements (for naturalisation), you must have been lawfully present in the UK while holding Indefinite Leave to Remain (ILR) for at least one year. To get ILR, you usually need to have lived in the UK for a minimum of five years under a valid form of entry clearance (such as a spouse or work visa). Sometimes, this period is less (it is three years if you are applying as a Tier 1 investor for example) or more (it is 10 years under the ‘long-residence’ route).

You must satisfy the ‘continuous residency’ criteria to be eligible for nationality. This means that, since your time spent in the UK, you were not absent for more than 90 days in the last 12 months leading up to the submission of your application.

Your case may be evaluated if you can prove you needed to be absent from the UK for more time than this if you have exceptional circumstances. However, the continuous residency requirement is very strict, so these grounds need to show that it was impossible (either because of physical or compassionate reasons) to be in the UK during this time.

British citizenship advice

Our team of dedicated lawyers is on hand to offer you immigration advice tailored to you and your personal circumstances. We can advise you on whether you meet the British citizenship requirements. We will run a personalised eligibility test with you, providing you with a one-to-one, untimed session with one of our nationality lawyers. We will then assess whether you already meet the requirements. Whether you are already eligible to become a British citizen or not, we will give you detailed advise during your session on how to proceed. If you are not yet eligible, your lawyer will advise you on what steps you need to take in order to become eligible. After the session, you will receive complete written confirmation which details your plan of action. You will also have the chance to ask any follow-up questions you have. Call us on 0121 667 6530 to arrange your first session.

British citizenship application support

Our team of lawyers can support you through your British citizenship application – from start to finish. We will work closely with you to gather and source your citizenship documents, organising a comprehensive evidence bundle to be submitted alongside your case. Your lawyer will also write a Letter of Representation to accompany your case. This letter argues the merits of your case, and – if applicable – draws upon relevant case law and legislation, to demonstrate to the Home Office that your application is worthy. As well as these services, our application package also involves your lawyer overseeing your entire application. They will complete all your application forms to the highest possible standard and also liaise with the Home Office/relevant authorities on your behalf. Call us on  0121 667 6530 to begin your journey towards becoming a British citizen today.

British citizenship by registration

To register as a British citizen, you must have a claim to citizenship through a parent (or sometimes grandparent) who was/is a UK national by birth. If you have this claim, you are classed as a British citizen by descent.

The registration process for children who were born abroad to one or two British parents requires a Form MN1 to be submitted.

The requirements for an application include:

  • Proving that one of both parents are British citizens (by birth)
  • Showing immigration history, including place of birth
  • Meeting the ‘good character requirement’ (if the applicant is over the age of 10).

British naturalisation requirements

To naturalise as a British citizen, you must have been resident in the UK for a specified number of years. This should be through a valid visa entry clearance route – such as under the Spouse, Tier 1, or Tier 2 categories.

You must also have held ILR for at least a year before you can apply for UK citizenship. You are required to submit a Form AN for this citizenship route.

The requirements for a naturalisation application include:

  • Holding Indefinite Leave to Remain status for at least one year before submitting an application
  • Showing immigration history, including all previous visas you have held
  • Passing a Life in the UK test and the English language requirements
  • Meeting the good character eligibility requirements
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Related pages for your continued reading.

Frequently Asked Questions

You can make an application for a British passport once you have either claimed or been granted citizenship to Britain.

You can apply for this by submitting evidence through the government website. You will need to submit evidence including biometric information (photographs and fingerprints) and two references. These references must be from two separate people, both of which cannot be related, and which must be professionals.

You can usually apply for a fast-track passport if you urgently need one. For this, you must attend a centre and have an interview with a member of staff. You will then receive your passport later that day.

To apply for British citizenship, you must meet several naturalisation requirements. These require you to have been resident in the UK for a certain amount of time under a valid form of entry clearance.

The amount of time you should be resident for depends on the route you’re taking. This is usually five years. After this time, you can apply for ILR. Once you have held ILR for at least 12 months you can apply to naturalise as a British citizen.

You can register as a British national if you have one or two parent(s) who were born in the UK. To apply, you must fill out the correct form (either for yourself or on behalf of a child) and submit it to the Home Office. You will then usually need to attend a citizenship ceremony.

Depending on where you are originally from, you can use different types of settled status to become eligible for naturalisation.

These include permanent residence and Indefinite Leave to Remain, or ILR.

EEA Permanent Residence applies to nationals from within the EU & EEA who want to naturalise as citizens of Britain.

ILR applies to non-EEA applicants.

Both entrance routes require the applicant to have lived in the UK for at least 12 months before applying for naturalisation. During this time, they must have been living in the UK with one of these two types of settled status.